Despite Trump rhetoric on immigration, visa policy, LA registers record inbound

In what may come as a welcome relief for the larger tourism industry in the USA, Los Angeles – country’s foremost tourism destination – has recorded a historic 48.3 million tourists in 2017. While the growth may seem trivial as the total y-o-y growth in international visitation stands at a lowly 0.9 percent, compared to 2016 but given the current political climate where the Trump administration has effectively put in place stricter visa policies and regulations, deterring tourists, these numbers are significant.

Ernest Wooden Jr.
President & CEO
LA Tourism and Convention Board

The growth in footfalls assume added importance as, hamstrung by new government’s policies and constant rhetoric involving foreigners, Los Angeles Tourism had launched an initiative called “Everyone is Welcome”, stressing on city’s cultural diversity and inclusivity. Launched in April 2017, the campaign has immensely contributed to negating the impact of government’s positioning on foreigners. “Our ‘Everyone is Welcome’ campaign was the right message at the right time; it was a message of humanity and encouraged people around the globe to see the diversity of L.A.’s faces and places,” said Ernest Wooden Jr., president and CEO of the Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board, reflecting on the contribution of the campaign in boosting numbers.

Buoyed by the positive impact of the campaign, the tourism and convention board is planning on further amplifying the message. “In 2018, we will extend and amplify our message of ‘Welcome’ and intertwine a message of hospitality, fuelling even greater momentum towards our north star of 50 million visitors by the year 2020,” Ernest Wooden Jr. said. 

 In terms of specifics, key international markets, including Canada, China, South Korea and India have all registered an upward swing in numbers. As many as 121,000 Indian visitors took to Los Angeles in 2017, pushing the Y-O-Y growth from Indian shores to 4 percent.

Incidentally, Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) has also announced a record-breaking 2017, having welcomed more than 84.9 million passengers.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti commented on the development, noting that tourism was powering the city’s economy to “newer heights”. “We know that lasting prosperity means investing boldly in jobs, opportunity, and growth,” the Mayor reasoned.

Tourism remains critical to city’s economy and supported over half a million jobs in 2017 alone. Given the importance of tourism in driving growth and employment, the development should reinvigorate the tourism industry in the USA, and embolden them to further amplify their marketing and outreach in key source markets. 

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